The Miami Dolphins were eliminated in the Wild Card round of the NFL’s 2023 playoffs, losing to the Buffalo Bills two weeks ago. Last week, the Bills dropped out of the postseason tournament with a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, setting up a Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs AFC Championship game. On the NFC side, the Philadelphia Eagles are set to host the San Francisco 49ers this weekend, with the winners from each game moving on to a Super Bowl LVII showdown.
While the Dolphins are not in contention for the Lombardi Trophy, several former Dolphins players and coaches remain in the tournament. The Chiefs, with just two, have the fewest number of former Dolphins within their franchise, while the Bengals have nine former Miami players or coaches on their payroll.
Who are these former Dolphins looking to earn a Super Bowl championship ring?
Kansas City Chiefs
Chad Henne, quarterback- A second-round pick of the Dolphins in 2008, Henne was expected to solidify the Miami quarterback position for the first time since Dan Marino. He began his career backing up Chad Pennington, who joined Miami that year, finishing second in the MVP voting for the season. He assumed the starter’s spot for much of the 2009 and 2010 seasons before a dislocated shoulder four games into the 2011 season ended that campaign and his time with the Dolphins. He spent the 2012 through 2017 seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, then moved to the Chiefs in 2018. He was with the team for their Super Bowl winning 2019 season and has proven to be a reliable backup to Patrick Mahomes for Kansas City. He had 7,114 passing yards with the Dolphins, good enough for the sixth-most in team history, along with 31 touchdowns, 37 interceptions, and a 75.7 passer rating. For his career, Henne has thrown for 13,290 yards with 60 touchdowns, 63 interceptions, and a 76.1 rating.
Dave Merritt, defensive backs coach - A seventh-round pick by the Dolphins in 1993, Merritt was a linebacker for the Dolphins as a rookie. He appeared in four games for Miami before moving to the Arizona Cardinals for the second-half of his rookie season, playing there through 1995. In 1997, he played for the Rhein Fire in NFL Europe before becoming a coach at Tennessee-Chattanooga. He has also spent time coaching at the Virginia Military Institute along with for the New York Jets, New York Giants, and Cardinals before joining the Chiefs in 2019.
Samaje Perine, running back - Selected in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Washington Commanders’ franchise, Perine played there for two seasons. In 2019, he joined the Bengals when they claimed him off waivers at the end of the preseason. He was signed to the Bengals practice squad in October 2019, with Miami signing him from their practice squad in December. He appeared in one game for the Dolphins, rushing five times for 16 yards. He was waived by the Dolphins in April 2020, with the Bengals claiming him and bringing him back to Cincinnati, where he appeared in all 16 games in 2020, then in 16 and 11 games each of the last two seasons.
Michael Thomas, safety - Thomas was signed by the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent out of Stanford in 2012. After spending nearly two full seasons on their practice squad, Thomas signed to the Dolphins’ roster in December 2013 and immediately entered Dolphins lore. In his NFL debut, five days after signing with Miami, Thomas intercepted New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the endzone with two seconds remaining in the game, sealing the victory for the Dolphins. Thomas played for Miami through the 2017 season, appearing in 56 games with 25 starts and becoming a key member of the special teams unit for the franchise. He recorded 191 defensive tackles, with one sack, one interception, six passes defensed, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery with Miami. He spent the 2018 and 2019 seasons with the New York Giants, including a selection to the Pro Bowl in 2018. He moved to the Houston Texans for a season in 2020, then joined the Bengals for the 2021 and 2022 campaigns.
Zac Taylor, head coach - Taylor began his coaching career at Texas A&M as a graduate assistant from 2008 through 2011. In 2012, he moved to the NFL, working as the Dolphins’ assistant quarterbacks coach, then being promoted to the quarterbacks coach for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. In 2015, he became the team’s interim offensive coordinator under interim head coach Dan Campbell for the final five games of the year after the team relieved Bill Lazor of his offensive coordinator responsibilities. In 2016, Taylor served as the offensive coordinator at the University of Cincinnati. In 2017, Taylor served as the assistant wide receivers coach for the Los Angeles Rams, then worked as their quarterbacks coach for the 2018 season. In 2019, Taylor was hire by the Bengals as their head coach, suffering through two losing seasons (2-14 in 2019 and 4-11 in 2020), before leading Cincinnati to the Super Bowl last season, where they lost to the Rams.
Lou Anarumo, defensive coordinator - Anarumo began his coaching career in the college ranks, starting at Wagner in 1989 as a running backs coach before holding various positions at Syracuse, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Harvard, Marshall, and Purdue. In 2012, the Dolphins hired him as their defensive backs coach, holding that position through the 2017 season, and including a period as the team’s interim defensive coordinator in 2015 after Miami relieved Kevin Coyle of his responsibilities in the position. In 2018, Anarumo was fired by Dolphins head coach Adam Gase and moved to the New York Giants as their defensive backs coach before being named Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator in 2019, having previously worked with Taylor with the Dolphins.
Ben Martin, assistant offensive line coach - Martin began his coaching career at Curry College, working as the team’s offensive line and tight ends coach in 2007. He held various jobs, primarily running backs coach, run game coordinator, and offensive line coach, at Merrimack College, Texas A&M, Princeton, and Wagner College from 2008 through 2013. In 2014, he was hired by the Dolphins as their offensive line coach before he moved to Union College for the 2016 and 2017 seasons as their offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator. He was the offensive line coach at Bryant University before joining the Bengals in 2019, having previously worked with Taylor at Texas A&M and with the Dolphins.
Marion Hobby, defensive line coach - After a three-year NFL career that included stops with the Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots, Hobby began his coaching career at Tennessee-Martin as a strength and conditioning coach in 1995. He continued to work his way through the college coaching ranks at Louisiana-Lafayette, Tennessee, Ole Miss, and Clemson before his first NFL position as the New Orleans Saints’ defensive ends coach in 2005. He returned to the college ranks in 2006, working as Duke’s defensive coordinator and defensive line coach, then moving to Clemson in 2011 as their co-defensive coordinator and defensive ends coach. In 2017, he returned to the NFL, this time with the Jacksonville Jaguars where he was the defensive line coach. He moved to the Dolphins in the same role in 2019 before mutually agreeing to part ways with the team in 2021, leading to him joining the Bengals.
Charles Burks, secondary/cornerbacks coach - Burke began coaching as a secondary coach at East Central University in 2011, then as an assistant secondary/cornerbacks coach at West Texas A&M in 2012 and as the secondary coach at Texas A&M-Commerce in 2013. He continued his college coaching career at Southeastern Oklahoma State in 2014, remaining there through the 2018 season, working as the team’s defensive coordinator. He was hired by the Dolphins in 2019 as a defensive assistant focusing on the cornerbacks. He was promoted to the cornerbacks coach role in 2021. He is in his first season with the Bengals.
Jordan Kovacs, assistant linebackers coach - Signed by the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan in 2013, Kovacs started his rookie season on Miami’s practice squad before being promoted a month into the season. He was released by the Dolphins at the end of the 2014 preseason, eventually signing to the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad before being re-signed to the active roster by Miami. He ultimately played for three years in Miami, appearing in 28 games. He was signed to a futures contract by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2016 but was released prior to training camp. He joined the Los Angeles Rams during training camp, but was a part of the final round of roster cuts. Listed as a safety, he primarily played on special teams for the Dolphins, with 43 snaps on defense compared to 536 special teams snaps. He recorded 11 defensive tackles and a sack in his career. He moved to coaching in 2017, returning to Michigan where he served as a defensive and special teams assistant coach. He was hired by the Bengals in 2019 as their defensive quality control coach, then was promoted this year into the assistant linebacker coach role.
Mark Duffner, senior defensive assistant - Beginning at Ohio State in 1975 as a graduate assistant, Duffner spent 22 years in the college coaching ranks, including work as the defensive coordinator at Cincinnati from 1977-1980, then as the defensive coordinator at Holy Cross from 1981-1985 before becoming the team’s head coach from 1986 through 1991. He moved to Maryland as their head coach in 1992 before being hired as the Bengals’ linebacker coach in 1997. He added the defensive coordinator title in 2001 before being hired as the Green Bay Packers’ linebackers coach in 2003. He moved to the same position with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2006, then served as the linebackers coach for the Dolphins from 2014 through 2015. He was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebackers coach in 2016 and 2017 before adding defensive coordinator responsibilities in 2018. He was hired by the Bengals in 2019.
Robert Quinn, defensive end - Drafted in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, Quinn spent the first seven seasons of his NFL career with the St. Louis / Los Angeles Rams. The Dolphins traded for Quinn in 2018, sending a fourth-round draft pick to the Rams, along with a swap of sixth-round picks. Spending just one season in Miami, Quinn started all 16 games, recording 38 tackles, a team-high 6.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles for the 2018 season. The Dolphins traded Quinn to the Dallas Cowboys in 2019 for a 2020 sixth-round draft pick. He signed with the Chicago Bears in 2020 and was traded to the Eagles during the 2022 season in exchange for a 2023 fourth-round draft pick. Since joining Philadelphia, he has appeared in five games, recording four tackles.
Ndamukong Suh, defensive tackle - The second overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Suh began his career with a five-year stint with the Detroit Lions. In 2015, the Dolphins signed Suh as a free agent, making him the highest-paid defensive player in league history at that point with a six-year, $114 million contract. He was released three-years later, with Miami eating a $22 million dead-money salary cap hit as they restructured his contract each offseason. In his three years with the Dolphins, Suh was named to one Pro Bowl and totaled 181 tackles, 15.5 sacks, 13 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. Suh signed with the Los Angeles Rams on a one-year contract for the 2018 season before three years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He joined the Eagles mid-way through this season.
Jeremiah Washburn, defensive ends/outside linebacker coach - Washburn began his coaching career at Arkansas as a graduate assistant in 2000 before joining the Carolina Panthers’ front office as a football operations assistant in 2002. He worked for the Baltimore Ravens in 2003 and 2004 as a player personnel assistant, then as an area scout from 2005 through 2008. He moved back into coaching in 2009 with the Detroit Lions, working as an assistant offensive line coach for four seasons, then from 2013 through 2015 as the offensive line coach. His first stint with the Dolphins came in 2016 when he was as assistant offensive line coach before becoming the Chicago Bears’ offensive line coach in 2017. He returned to the Dolphins in 2018 as the offensive line coach before joining the Eagles in 2019 as an advanced projects coordinator. In 2020, he moved to being the senior defensive assistant for the club, then was named the defensive ends/outside linebackers coach this year.
San Francisco 49ers
Jake Brendel, center - Brendel entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent signed by the Dallas Cowboys in 2016 out of UCLA. After starting his rookie campaign on the Cowboys’ practice squad, Brendel was released with an injury settlement about a month into the season. He then signed with the Dolphins practice squad a few weeks later before being promoted to the active roster later in the year, making one appearance. He continued with the Dolphins for the 2017 season, working on special teams and as a backup center. He spent much of the 2018 season on injured reserve with the Dolphins. He signed in 2019 with the Denver Broncos, but was released at the end of the preseason, then joined the Ravens for a brief stint during the season. He signed with the 49ers in 2020, but did not play during the season as a COVID-19 opt-out. He played in 21 games for Miami over three years, starting three times. After primarily working as a reserve lineman last year for the 49ers, Brendel started all 17 games this season in San Francisco.
Taybor Pepper, long snapper - The Green Bay Packers signed Pepper in 2017 after he was an undrafted free agent out of Michigan State but did not sign with any team in 2016. He was released by the Packers and had a brief training camp stint with the Ravens before returning to the Packers during the 2017 season. He finished that year on injured reserve and was out all of the 2018 season. In 2019, Pepper started the year with the New York Giants but was released at the end of training camp. The Dolphins signed him as the 2019 season was beginning, then waived him in during the 2020 offseason. He signed with the 49ers just after the season started in 2020 and has stayed with the team since. He appeared in all 16 games for the Dolphins in 2019.
Chris Foerster, offensive line coach/run game coordinator - Foerster began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Colorado State in 1982, then as their offensive line coach from 1983 through 1987. His college coaching career continues with a stint at Stanford as their assistant offensive line coach and special teams coach and as the Minnesota offensive line coach. In 1993, he entered the NFL coaching circle as the Minnesota Vikings tight ends coach and assistant offensive line coach. In 1996, he joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as their offensive line coach, then moved to the Indianapolis Colts in 2002 to coach the tight ends. His first stint with the Dolphins came as the team’s offensive coordinator for the 2004 season before he moved in 2005 to be the Ravens offensive line coach. In 2008, he joined the 49ers as their offensive line coach, then moved to the same role with the Washington Commanders franchise in 2010. He returned to the 49ers in 2015 for one year as their offensive line coach, then served as the Dolphins offensive line coach from 2016 into the 2017 season. Foerster resigned during the 2017 season after a video surfaced that showed him snorting a white powder off his desk in the Dolphins’ training facility; “I am resigning from my position with the Miami Dolphins and accept full responsibility for my actions. I want to apologize to the organization and my sole focus is on getting the help that I need with the support of my family and medical professionals,” Foerster said in a statement at the time. After sitting out all of the 2018 season, Foerster was hired by the 49ers in 2019 as a game-planning assistant. He was promoted to offensive line coach in 2021, then, after the Dolphins hired former 49ers offensive coordinator and run game coordinator Mike McDaniel as their head coach for the 2022 season, Foerster added the run game coordinator title to his responsibilities and is, effectively, the co-offensive coordinator for the team without someone named to the position.
Brian Fleury, tight ends coach - A college football quarterback, Fleury joined the coaching ranks in 2003 s a graduate assistant at Maryland. He moved to Sacred Heart University in 2005, working as the secondary coach for a year before three seasons as the team’s defensive coordinator. He then moved to Towson University in 2009, spending four years as the special teams coordinator and defensive backs coach. In 2013, Fleury moved to the NFL as a quality control coach for the Buffalo Bills, focused primarily on the linebackers. He then joined the Cleveland Browns in 2014, working as an assistant linebackers coach before becoming the team’s outside linebackers coach in 2015. In 2016, the Dolphins hired Fleury as the team’s football research analyst, then named him the director of football research in 2017; he also assisted coaching the linebackers in 2016, the defensive line in 2017, and the defensive backs in 2018. The 49ers hired him in 2019 as a defensive quality control coach, then moved him to being an offensive quality control coach in 2020 before naming him the tight ends coach this year.
Brian Griese, quarterbacks coach - Griese is in his first year as a coach after working as a broadcaster and analyst for ESPN’s NFL and college coverage from 2009 through 2021, and including serving as a booth commentator on Monday Night Football for the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Prior to his broadcast work, Griese was a third-round pick in the 1998 NFL Draft, selected by the Denver Broncos out of Michigan. After five seasons with Denver, Griese signed with the Dolphins in June 2003, joining the franchise for which his father, Bob, played all 14 years of his Hall of Fame career and has had his jersey retired. Brian’s stint with Miami was not as accomplished as Bob’s with Brian starting just five games and throwing for 813 yards with five touchdowns, six interceptions, and a 69.2 passer rating. He would move to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2004, but a knee injury cut short his 2005 season and the Buccaneers released him after the year ended. He then spent two seasons with the Chicago Bears before a final one-year stint back with the Buccaneers.
Kris Kocurek, defensive line - After a two-year NFL career as a defensive tackle for the Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans, Kocurek began coaching at Texas Tech as a graduate assistant in 2003. He worked as a graduate assistant at Texas A&M-Kingsville for the 2004 and 2005 seasons, then as the defensive line coach at Texas A&M-Commerce for the 2006 season. In 2007 he was the defensive line coach at West Texas A&M, then held the same role at Stephen F. Austin in 2008. The Detroit Lions hired Kocurek in 2009 as the assistant defensive line coach, then promoted him to defensive line coach in 2010. In 2018, the Dolphins hired him for the same position before he moved to take the same role with the 49ers in 2019.